Help for the Chick on the Side

Now that I have your attention let me say “Gotcha”!!!!!! Surely you didn’t think I would peck out a post about side-chicks in the urban sense of the term. No ma’am. No sir. Not here. Not ever. This post is for the professional woman who has found or finds herself as the 2nd in command, the behind the scenes builder-upper, the “doo-wop-bop” background girl, the right hand woman, the vice to the president, the assistant to the director, the make it happen helper or whatever the title may be.

While brushing my hair recently, a thought more than 15 years old came to mind. I was reminded of the time I worked as a Special Projects Producer at a local television station in Birmingham, AL and uncovered a development in major, major decades old civil rights story. News of the discovery, which involved a sensitive time in history, spread around the country. Soon national talk shows were calling me. I was excited about the possibility of going to Los Angeles to appear on the Leeza Gibons Show. We were working out the details. My parents were proud, especially my Daddy. Then, out of what seemed to be nowhere at the time, I was told I wouldn’t be able to go to the show, but instead the anchor for which I was writing for and working with would go. The words of the hit Gap Band chart topper “You dropped a bomb on me, baby” rose up in me like too much food at a hot State Fair. I was devastated. I was discouraged. I was angry! I was H-O-T, and, in my less mature stage at the time I probably let someone know it.  (BTW…The talk show appearance never panned out, and just a month or so later I found a great, new job.)


I wish I could say that was my first and last dip into the professional pool of “chick on the side”, but it wasn’t. I’ve spent a great deal of time as someone’s second. For seven years I worked full-time in ministry with my former husband. I was COO to his CEO, which meant a lot of my thoughts and ideas were welcomed, implemented and appreciated by some, and a whole lot more of them were not. That’s the skinny on that which I choose to divulge. I’ve done the same in careers more recently and prior to. I’ve been a COTS…a Chick on the Side. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard being the business chick on the side. The responsibilities are high. The pay, at least in my cases, is certainly not. The position can be supported. The position can also feel stifling. The pedestal of expectations is lofty. The path to discouragement at the actions of others can go low. The passion is often present. The motivation to carry on in the midst of madness can fizzle like a bottle of 7-Up with the top left off. The ‘I’m glad to be here” is awesome. The “I’m so over this” is awful. The prestige of the position can be intoxicating. The “real deal, behind the scenes truth” can be suffocating. The love of the people can be uplifting. The loss of that love can be gut-wrenching.


So what’s a girl to do? Glad you asked. Not that I plan on being a COTS (Chick on the Side) all of my life, but if the Lord values my gifts from Him enough to trust me to use them to uplift others then the least I can do is:

  • Pray for the leader(s).
  • Be grateful for my position, regardless.
  • Be grateful that I don’t have to carry the full weight of the job even if it feels like it sometimes, and especially when things go awry.
  • Watch out for, try to help avoid, learn from and never repeat the mistakes of others.
  • Borrow from the brilliance of others. (No need in being that close and not catching some of what’s flowing from the top.)
  • Stay humble. (Pride can attack a COTS like nobody’s business, especially in the area of hurt feelings. Ask me how I know.)
  • Develop my passions while trying to help others live theirs.
  • Keep the gritty and grimy confidential (a perfect COTS keeps it quiet.)
  • Stay motivated for now, and definitely for later.



Girl, Somebody Lied to You!

Washing my hands in the restroom at work, gazing in the hazy mirror at my newly cut bangs (from a less than new sew-in) the words, “Girl, somebody lied to you” crossed my mind. I was shocked initially, almost wondering where this inner, loud whisper derived. As women, too many times than not, we have listened to lies from others about ourselves, lives from ourselves regarding others and even from ourselves regarding ourselves. Before you hop on an “all men are dogs” channel that I simply do not and will not ever subscribe to do know that I’m not referring to the “player, cheater or not quite mature enough to handle the responsibilities of a relationship” kind of man we might have knowingly entertained or naively encountered. I’m talking about the bold face lies society, unwise influencers, and our own misguided hopes and dreams might have told us. (BTW…is a bold face lie different from a scared face lie? #ija) I digress.


I started thinking of a list of a lot of lies we, as incomparably beautiful, God-created, life-giving, purpose-overflowing, love-filled, spiritually gifted women, need to know longer believe about us if we’re going to be the fabulous, fabulous women we were all created to be. I’m not listing lies, as I prefer truth. So below I offer you a sampling of seeing yourself from a different point of view.

  1. A man or marriage won’t make you happy. (Ask a bunch of other married, dating and no longer married women how we know. Happiness is an exclusive right. No help is needed. I promise this one is true so if you were clinging to it like a newborn to its milk machine please let it go.)
  2. Marriage won’t cure your ills. (If struggling with financial mismanagement, loneliness, fornication, low self-esteem or any other issues before marriage, and not taking steps to be healed from it, an “I Do” doesn’t take it away. It just shifts it into another gear.)
  3. You really don’t need makeup. (I “heart” make up. I really, really do, but I know that it is strictly an enhancement to all the goodness, flaws and all, about us which already exist, but it is not a necessity. We’re fine with or without it. Literally, and figuratively.)
  4. Your voice is important. (Often as women we feel our voice, opinion, thoughts, ideas or histories aren’t embraced so they must not be important. They are and must be heard. Ya heard?)
  5. Women can be friends. (Forget the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night reality show and social media fighting. Women are social creatures by Godly design. More importantly, we’re communicators, which means we are equipped to get along, stay together, talk it out, establish trust and enjoy the love, support and influence of other women meant to walk this amazing journey called life with us.)
  6. Your hips are hot. (Don’t be fooled. Those areas in which you carry as a testament to your DNA, your life’s struggles, your overcome medical obstacles…childbirth included, or whatever is behind the story of your behind and its less than perfect body buddies is beautiful. As is. No pun intended.)
  7. Being spiritual, smart, sincere and sophisticated is haute. (It is absolutely popular and eternally trending to have a relationship with God and show it, speak properly, use correct spelling and grammar in formal and less than formal writings, be kind, be generous, showcase your knowledge in all types of settings, pursue higher education, be classy, carry poise, and take the lead as lead in areas of which you know you are gifted.)
  8. Your spiritual Father has the first and final say-so. (For those who have bore the pain of the lack of presence from an earthly father or a proper one, do know that your real Daddy is the MAN! He loves you, won’t leave you, is trustworthy, will show up when He promised, won’t forget a birthday, has you on His mind all the time and loves you. Yes, I said He loves you twice just so it can settle in.)
  9. Pouty mouths, duck lips, and frowny faces can’t compete with a smile. (I don’t know who hijacked the smile, but I demand a swift return. Ladies, nothing says “confident, sexy, approachable, mature, friendly, or comfortable in the skin I’m in” like a good, old-fashion smile. Try it. Often. Please.)
  10. Gaining a new job, new house, new body, new man, new car, new degree, and/or new circle of influence is a blessing, but it won’t build you… and guess what, should you lose one, any or all of it, it won’t break you either. (Ask me how I know.)



The ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

At the invite of a colleague recently I had an opportunity to talk about Hygiene and Professional Attire to a group of aspiring, young students in a work development program from the Birmingham, Alabama area. My purpose was to directly speak to the women, while another expert was sent to speak to the young men. As teens would have it, both our conversations became all-inclusive, and boy-oh-boy did we learn as much from them as they did from us.

That morning session with those 80 students prompted this post on the ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

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A-Attitude adjustments work well in the workplace.

B-Bathe daily (or twice daily if needed).

C-Comb and Care for hair daily (or more often if needed). Our hair (whether grown or purchased) is our crowning glory. Take care of your hair through regular shampooing, conditioning, trimming, through styles fitted for your face, colors fitting your professional positions or aspirations and styles fitting your budget. Don’t buy a $200 bundle of 14 inch Bobbi Boss Remi weave if you can only afford a $29.99 Hair Gallery special.

D-Deodorant is a must to prevent one from being musty. Be sure to choose a brand that is right for your body, and one which doesn’t cake up or show through sleeveless clothing.

E-Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast like a queen, a light and filling lunch like a princess and a reasonable dinner like a diva who wants the best for her body now and in years to come.

F-Find a good support team. We all need someone to tell us when our slip is showing (Google slip if you need to), when our attitude needs adjusting, when we need to improve or when there’s broccoli in our teeth.

G-Give back to those who are where you once were. No sense in a sophisticated lady keeping all of her goodness to herself.

H-Hang with the right crowd, especially around the water cooler.

I-Invest in a few professional, statement pieces. A blouse, some nice slacks, a standard suit and a comfy pair of pumps should always be available.

J-Join groups to help you develop spiritually, professionally, socially and academically.

K-Keep spare clothing, flat shoes, hygiene products, lip gloss, a nice snack and mints in case needed at work.

L-Lotion on feet, arms, legs, elbows and other places saves the day. (Enough said…and if lotion isn’t sufficient petroleum jelly works just as well as it did in the 70s.)

M-Manage your workload so that you are able to balance your professional and personal life.

N-Never underestimate the power of a consignment shop, thrift store, or fine garment from Wal-mart or Ross Dress for Less.

O-Own up to your flaws, but don’t hesitate to work to get rid of them.

P-Poise in the midst of chaos or confusion always comes in handy.

Q-Quit procrastinating. There’s nothing glamorous about being slothful.

R-Remember to rest.

S-Sit pretty so that the world won’t be able to see what lies beneath.

T-Teeth should be daily brushed, flossed, freshened with mouth-wash and refreshed with mints when needed (as often as needed).

U-Undergarments serve a purpose. (Don’t forget the benefit of Spanx, girdles, slips, stockings and a bunch of other support garments.)

V-Very little perfume, jewelry and other accessories go a long way.

W-Work out for now and for later (Trust me, this one caught be by an unfortunate surprise around age 33L)

X-eXude eXcellence. Yes, I cheated with this letter, but I’m sure you can see why. As women we have to carry ourselves in such a way that greatness, elegance, leadership, humility, kindness, joy, peace, and success are what others see…even when we don’t feel like it, and especially in the workplace.

Y-Yield to wisdom from those who know what you don’t yet know.

Z-Zip your lips to workplace gossip, complaining, undermining and murmuring. 


Let Me Upgrade You

Most of us know the song, or at least remember the clever video of Beyonce and her uncanny resemblance of then boyfriend, now husband Jay Z dancing, singing, and sashaying to the catchy beat of the 2006 smash hit Upgrade U. The video was cinemagraphically crisp. The horns, the whistles, and the drums of the beat were sick…in the best possible way. But the words were what rang a bell to me. Not to, at all, infringe on any copyright regulations I won’t post the lyrics, no matter how tempting, but will say the gist is that Bey was asking Jay to let her upgrade him. She did that!


A conversation amongst friends on the topic of, guess what, women upgrading men made me reflect on my many trysts with “upgradation”. (Yes, I did just make up a word.) Some who’ve walked this journey called life with me reminded me of the, shall we say, “impact” I’ve had on the lives of the men I’ve come in contact. From introducing a wiser style of menswear to one person in particular who had a love/hate relationship with suits not at all well-suited, to “being patient with” the young love without enough money to buy a $.35 hot pepper at the Gadsden KFC, to introducing others to cultural, family relational and spiritual insights they’d previously not been privy to, I’ve put in work on the “work with you committee” for some years now.


Now, the 20-something or 30-something-year-old me might have been pouting like a child when her last lollipop from the bank fell to the floor at the thought of working to make men better for other women, or other levels in life. And she did. No, ma’am, not this almost 43-year-old though. I know, accept and welcome that that’s what a girl, woman, friend, or wife is supposed to do. (Men carry this charge too, but this particular post right here isn’t directed toward men.) I’ve learned that any investment we make in the lives of others pays off for both parties whether directly or indirectly, and that’s good enough, especially if the Lord says so. This is true whether it be in a relationship, on a job, at a ministry, or with a group. This applies whether things last or not. We should want to always leave it, them, they or that better, and not desiring anything but God’s best for them. This is so regarding marriage. Why? Because the Bible says so. Don’t believe me? Check out Proverbs 18:22. This is especially so if love or loyalty is involved. Why? Because that’s the right thing to do. Why else? Because if we look closely, and really closely if we have to, we should also be able to see how we’ve been made better, whether it worked out the way we thought, hoped, wanted or not. Talk about an upgrade!


So as I shimmy in my seat with that sick Bey beat still in my head, giggling at some of the other comments made about the “upgradation” my friends and I participated in I’m grateful that I can clearly look back, and thanks to social media, not have to look too hard to see that the lives of those who shared some part of the lives with me are indeed better. That makes me want to humbly take a bow and pat myself on the back at the same time. (LOL!) I can then whip my Bobbi Boss blunt, bob tresses around in the mirror (and love who looks back at me) knowing that because of the lives of those who shared some part of their life with me I am better. And that, to me is what matters most. Sure, our outcomes might be different, but an upgrade is an upgrade no matter how you spin it. I have amazing wisdom that money couldn’t afford to buy. I have memories the history books (or comedy stages) would NOT believe. I know new places to dine, travel, and shop that I didn’t have to come up with or pay for. (Thanks, guys). I have SUPER friends that wouldn’t have been had it not been for “what’s his name”. I’ve had a life about as rich as a hearty bowl of New Orleans gumbo sold straight off the street. I have gifts and talents, influence and amazing stories to tell because of spending time with people who were a part of my pit stop (not in a negative way) to the ultimate upgrade. And that, my darlings, deserves a song of its own! #singalongwithme #letmeupgradeyou



These Styles Can Stay: Women’s Edition


While unpacking from a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, it dawned on me that for six days in a row I wore a different pair of leggings or jeggings. I was cute, in my humble opinion. I was in style, but appropriate for a 42-year-old. I was supported by garments that didn’t reveal more than should have met the eye and more importantly, I was comfortable. The thought that one day leggings and jeggings will be a thing of the past was daunting. Now, there are some fashion trends I wouldn’t mind snatching off the shelf forever myself. That list of items may manifest into a post itself. However, there are some styles for women I want to stick around as long as fashionably possible.


And they are, in no particular order:

  • Blunt bangs
  • Naturally, beautiful hair accessories (also known as wigs, weaves, extensions)
  • Appropriately supported and/or covered Leggings
  • Appropriately supported and/or covered Jeggings
  • Fashion-forward ensembles for women of all shapes and sizes
  • Maxi Dresses
  • Faux Fur
  • Blazers and beautiful jackets
  • Sparkly things to adorn boring things (like t-shirts)
  • Lipgloss
  • Dramatic red lips
  • Riding boots
  • Jeans with a little stretch in ’em
  • Dresses that make ladies really look like classy ladies
  • Big, beautiful, colorful handbags
  • Wristlets
  • Spanx, tights and an assortment of supportive garments
  • Flannel PJs
  • Swimsuits with a forgiving waistline (in other words, a bit of spandex, or “span” something sewn in)
  • Peplum dresses and blouses
  • A classic lace dress or blouse
  • Ruching on dresses and blouses
  • Denim jackets
  • Capes and swing coats
  • Wrap dresses
  • Houndstooth
  • Animal print…moderately bold
  • Gucci
  • High-heeled shoes that you want to wear and can actually walk in
  • Jumpers and rompers
  • Anything elegant, classy, sophisticated, lady-like or clearly announcing that a grown woman has entered the building.



But I’m Not His Type


Sometimes I wonder if I say too much in my blog posts. This time is one of them, but here I go…

Recently, a loved one recommended that she thought I would be a good fit to be matched romantically with a man of a certain stature. My first response was a school-girl giggle, and a shake of the shoulders reminiscent of Tamar Braxton. My second, and shocking internal response was the silent utterance of the words “But I’m not his type.” Mind you, I’ve never met this man and had no idea at that time why that thought came to mind, but sure as Christmas always comes on December 25 that thought came.

This morning in the shower I had a talk with myself asking why I thought I wasn’t his type. Again, I’ve never met him before. Would I ever want my nieces to grow up to think they aren’t a man’s type? Would I ever want my amazing teens at Woodlawn High to think they aren’t a boy’s type? No. There are some things in my health and physical life that I want to be better. That’s just the bottom line. Some of it is my fault , and I will be the absolute first to say that. Pray for me. Some of it happened at no fault of my own (check my testimony), and I believe I have been lingering in a little state of “I can’t believe that happened to me and I’m still not sure I’m pleased about what it left behind” and had somehow gotten stuck after my healing, but not being brave enough and dedicated enough to move to the point of “let’s get this show in shape and back on the road”. So, there I was, in the shower dissecting myself, thinking about why I thought I wouldn’t be someone’s type and simultaneously waiting for some swift word from God to get me back on track. And sure enough, it came, just like Christmas always comes on December 25.

Here’s what I now know. There is a difference in disliking who we are and wanting to improve how we are. Simple and plain. I believe that like me, many have double-dutched back and forward with the temptation of actually looking at who we are and not liking what looks back. I believe at times, we’ve contemplated listening to the wicked whispers which dare us to tear ourselves down with words (spoken and unspoken) that destroy the very essence of who we are. That’s the wrong way of being and seeing. Simple and plain. I now, decide to see what is as it is, embrace it, and work to enhance it, but I should never dislike something that houses all of the best of God’s presence in me.

Am I “his” type? Who knows. I’ll let you know if I ever have a chance to find out. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to work on Angela from the inside out knowing that, while I’m absolutely not perfect there are parts of me which are pretty darn spectacular (to know acclaim of my own), and the other parts will either become better or just continue to be ME.



The Debate About Domestic Violence

Sadly, of late, yet another instance of domestic violence has captured the headlines. Former Baltimore Ravens football professional Ray Rice was recently released from his team and suspended from the NFL after a video surfaced of him beating his now wife in an elevator at a casino back in February 2014. The video was disgusting and disturbing and that is all I shall say about that.

What I shall speak on is the debate which seems to have again reared its ugly head about domestic violence, particularly the lesser informed sides with questions and comments of “why would a woman stay”, “who hit whom first”, “what did she do to provoke that”, or my all-time least favorite “I bet she stayed for the money”. Listen people, and hear me well, all of that makes not a bit of difference when it comes to life and death. Domestic violence is about life and death. It’s not a “cultural” thing. It’s not a “racial” thing. It’s not a “regional” thing. It’s not a “demographically based” thing. It’s not a “certain socioeconomic status” thing. It’s not an “athletes, stars, and politicians only” thing. It’s not a “my daddy did it to my mama so I’ll do it too” thing. It’s not a “she’s feisty so she deserves it” thing. It’s not a “she should have known he was like that” thing. It’s not a “let’s sweep this under the rug or turn on the blind eye” thing. It’s about life and death, be it physical death, emotional death or spiritual death. The ONLY debate about domestic violence should be who offers the services quicker, closer, more completely and in more confidence to help a woman or any human who has experienced this horrible, horrible dehumanizing act. That is it! Nothing else matters. Point. Blank. Period.

The fact that social media has created an outlet for opinions which can sometimes be based on lack of knowledge, also known as ignorance, frightens me. Having never experienced domestic violence personally I am grateful that that path was not a part of my story, but it is for women I know, love or with whom I have come in contact. Working at Birmingham, Alabama’s YWCA Central Alabama everyday encountering women or hearing stories of women who have narrowly escaped their lives, and some who did not moves me to act. Won’t you join me?

Instead of posting the video of another human at her lowest point of humiliation post some resources, encouraging words and personal testimonies. Instead of debating about what caused it talk about what can fix it. Instead of pointing the finger at the woman know the warning signs and the cycle of violence, get to know her, build a relationship and help her get the heck out of harm’s way. Instead of sitting idly by until the next time something like this captures our attention for a fleeting moment, and it will, partner with agencies like the YWCA Central Alabama or whatever domestic violence services agency exists in your state or country and give money for more resources, advocate for more laws and services, spend time volunteering, donate needed items to shelters and share your own story if there is one to share. If you are a man (or woman) with issues within yourself that you cowardly take out on others, stop it, get help, heal and move on. Call Iyanla if you have to but STOP! If you are a woman (or man) who is the victim of another person’s self-hatred and find yourself in a domestic violence situation know that you are loved, important, necessary, strong, supported and worth help. Leave with your life in tact and trust us all who care to handle the rest on your behalf.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There is so much to be done that month and in all the months to come to save lives. The good news is, we don’t have to wait until October. Let’s start today by all stopping just talking about it, debating about it, and wondering about it. Let’s stop domestic violence now. Our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends will hopefully live to thank us.